Australian Election 2013: Where will the NBN and data retention be?

Australian Election 2013: Where will the NBN and data retention be?

Summary: Following Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of the set election date, Labor has a number of tasks to accomplish before Australians go to the polls on September 14.


The announcement yesterday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the election date being set for September 14 gives the parliament just a few weeks to get legislation passed, and the NBN Co just under eight months to get fibre connected to as many premises as possible.

Gillard chose to announce the date just under eight months out from the polling day in an unusual move, which she said was to starve off election date speculation and to provide certainty for business in Australia in the lead up to the election.

The announcement puts a fair bit of pressure on a number of tasks that the Labor government must achieve before September.


The National Broadband Network (NBN) will continue chugging along until election day, and the company — as was the case in 2010 — won't down tools during the election period. If the roll-out keeps going as planned, NBN Co will reach 341,000 premises with fibre (in both new and existing housing) by June, and assuming the NBN Co works every working day up until September 14 at the FY2014 average run rate, the fibre network will be available to 553,520 premises across Australia.

The fixed-wireless and satellite networks will be available to around about 331,250 premises, meaning that the network will be available to approximately 884,770 premises in total, provided NBN Co meets its targets.

As for how many people will be using services on the network by the end of June, NBN Co has set itself the target of 92,000 premises, according to the corporate plan. And if it is connecting as many premises as it expects, the company will have, at most, 95,625 additional customers using the NBN, bringing the total active services to 187,625.

The number is ultimately likely to be lower than this, however, mainly because the rate for the 2014 financial year will be largely affected by the switch off of the copper network, which is scheduled towards the end of the financial year. While the ramp up to the switch off date will likely see more in those first areas switch over, it is unlikely that NBN Co will hit the peak of new daily connections until towards the end of the financial year.

It's not clear at this stage what will happen with NBN Co should the Coalition win the election. The Real Solutions policy document released by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over the weekend has exactly four dot points devoted to broadband policy, and it starts with a cost-benefit analysis being conducted on the network. Whether that means construction is halted, we don't know yet. The party has promised several times that it will flesh out its policies before the election, but hasn't done so yet, so we'll have to wait and see.

Data retention, IT pricing, and copyright reform

The committee charged with investigating potential reforms to national telecommunications and security legislation — that includes the controversial proposal to force telcos to retain customer data for up to two years — missed it's deadline to report back to parliament at the end of 2012. Between now and election day, the House of Representatives only sits for 37 days, while the Senate sits for 28 days.

This doesn't leave a lot of time for the committee to report back, for the government to draft legislation, enter it into parliament, and have it pass both Houses. The government was able to quickly pass legislation around deterring asylum seekers last year, but this legislation would likely face stronger opposition from the Coalition, and the government is unlikely to want to bring about any controversial legislation in the few months it has before the election. Internet filter, anyone?

The timing will also make it quite unlikely for anything to come from the parliamentary inquiry into why Australians pay more for IT locally than customers in other countries. That committee still has several hearings ahead of it, and probably won't report back to parliament for another few months. While IT pricing is an important issue, it's unlikely to be seen as one that needs legislation passed quickly through parliament.

The Australian Law Reform Commission's review into the Copyright Act, which largely focuses on how it should be adapted to allow for new technology and cloud computing, is not due to report until the end of November this year, putting it well past the next election before any potential changes are even considered.

Any major IT initiatives from the government are likely to pop up in the Budget in May. The government has already said that this will spell out the kinds of promises and policies that Labor will take to the election, and the Coalition will likely also begin releasing its policies after Budget.

Topics: Government, Government AU, NBN, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • loving it

    Censorship in a nanny state with a data store covering just about everyone, with access to a bloody fast NBN that most can't access for either geographic or pricing reasons. Loving it.

    Hey aunty Julia, can I access my data store at will or through FOI procedures, or will the Bureau of statistics have the ultimate tool to measure and report on us anyway it likes...

    Stalin in high heels, anyone..............................
    • There is a reason why her hair is red

      . . . she was previously associated with the Communist Party.
    • Once more with feeling

      "a bloody fast NBN that most can't access for either geographic or pricing reasons"
      Let's break this down into 2 parts.

      "a bloody fast NBN that most can't access for geographic reasons"
      Insert the word "yet" after "access".

      "a bloody fast NBN that most can't access for pricing reasons"
      What pricing reasons? If you don't provide proof, ie. a link to an ADSL plan and a link to a similar NBN plan which is more expensive, I will simply ignore you. This proof is dead easy to find, assuming it exists; if you can't find it, that'll show how much water your argument holds.
  • oh

    and I'm, only half joking. I'm actually really very concerned at the liberties that our pollies are proposing. Just a step to the left for book burning and rabid idealism, anyone.
    • Under Labor's proposed laws

      Tim would have found himself before the Courts for his prostate joke.
  • LOL...

    The circus must be in town...
    • It certainly is always entertaining when the communist conspiracy nut-jobs get together on Zdnet
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • NBN rollout

    "NBN Co will reach 341,000 premises by June" and "the fibre network will be available to 553,520 premises across Australia" Doing a quick calc on these figures up to Sep 14:

    553,520 - 341,000 = 212,520 in 10weeks
    Assuming 7 days per week with no rain/fire/floods/holdups etc i.e. 212,520/70 days = 3,036 premises per day. where is the army of contractors to do this?
    Ya gotta be kiddin.......
    Bazza 123
    • You don't need to guesstimate the numbers, we know them already.
  • Still too slow and a potentially infinite undertaking.

    I keep saying that the target speeds of the NBN are too slow. By the time the damn thing is finished, it will be out-dated and clogged up with video streaming.

    Data retention is going to be an absolute nightmare. When it comes to my regular access to porn, are the "officers" in charge of monitoring and archiving all this data going to be forced to watch hours of "indecently exposed computers interfacing with each other"?
    • What?

      The NBN is targeting 1 gbps, which is as least 10 times what any other technology is capable of, and is more than any of the international forecasters (such as Cisco) think we will need in the medium term. The NBN rollout method is already expandable to 10 gbps (leaving other technologies even further behind), simply by changing out the box at either end of the line, the cables don't need to be touched. In simple terms, fibre is the only technology that can meet any sort of long term demands.

      As for data retention, the idea is that nobody will need to look at it unless there is some reason to suspect crime, it's not like people will need to look at all of it. But it's still an insane idea that clearly violates human rights.
  • Pyne's blogshop working overtime again?

    This guy's US style Republican inspired blogshop is running overtime.
    It's the reason why so many of the comments on Znet,Delimiter sound like uneducated bogans, it's an attempt to portray blog posts as average Australians, it's quite clear that average Australians can't be that stupid.
    Kevin Cobley